Shane Warne has been heavily criticised for referring to Cheteshwar Pujara with the nickname ‘Steve’, given to him at Yorkshire, while discussing how pronouncing the India batsman’s name is not easy with fellow commentators.
Warne, part of Fox Cricket’s commentary panel for the Australia-India Test series, repeatedly used the nickname on the first day of the Adelaide Test. The comments were picked up by Twitter users who pointed out how a former Yorkshire employee, Taj Butt, offered his resignation within six weeks after joining the club due to racist language at the club, including blanket use of the nickname ‘Steve’.
“[There were] continuous references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers when referring to Asian community,” Butt said.”They called every person of colour ‘Steve’. Even Indian Test player Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name.”
Plenty of onlookers, including prominent Indian cricket writers Siddhartha Vaidyanathan and Abhishek Mukherjee, slammed Warne for “tone-deafness”, labelling use of the nickname “racist”. It was also pointed out that Pujara himself preferred to be called Cheteshwar and not by his nickname. “Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it’s difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve,” Pujara had told ESPNcricinfo in 2018.
“But personally, I would prefer Cheteshwar. Jack Brooks started off with this. He couldn’t pronounce my first name so he was asking me what nickname do I have. I said I don’t have any. So they said, ‘we will start calling you Steve’. Initially, they started calling me ‘Puj’, but they have started calling me Steve again. It’s a good nickname, but I prefer Cheteshwar.”
Yorkshire have become embroiled in a racism row in recent times, sparked by comments made by Azeem Rafiq, former Yorkshire captain, to Wisden.com about the discrimination he faced during his time with the county. Yorkshire have since launched an independent investigation into the allegations, while Rafiq filed a legal claim against the club this week.
Such tone-deafness this is. Read the news, man.
— Vinayakk (@vinayakkm) December 17, 2020
Warne taking a racist dig at Pujara. Uncouth and classless.
— Zahoor Raza (@XahoorRaza) December 17, 2020
The racism row engulfing Yorkshire confirmed that every subcontinental guy, be it a Janitor or a cricketer is a ‘Steve’ at that club, because they can’t spell Asian names.
Yet Shane Warne decides to use the racist tag on a broadcast watched by millions worldwide.
— Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (@wildcardgyan) December 17, 2020
Referring to Pujara as ‘Steve’ is:
Learn to say his name
— Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee) December 17, 2020
They couldn’t pronounce Ranjitsinhji. They called him Smith.
That was because his teammates had little exposure to non Christian names.
That excuse does not work now.
Yes, it is racist.
I wonder how Yorkshire would have reacted had Hyderabadis called Bairstow Ravi. https://t.co/PnVPjtj6BI
— Abhishek Mukherjee (@ovshake42) December 17, 2020
And now Sir, the Australian commentators have started indulging in tone deaf racism…like Shane Warne calling Cheteshwar Pujara by the nickname he was referred to when Pujara was playing county cricket for Yorkshire (Steve), despite the fact that Pujara had issues with it 1️⃣
— Abhinav (@abhinav_k316) December 17, 2020
Goes on to show what is the importance of reading at least about the sport that earns you bread and butter. @7Cricket commentators @ShaneWarne and others are laughing about Pujara’s nickname ‘Steve’ and I am optimistic that they’re naive about the racist context of that name. https://t.co/yyWbFrqpJI
— Mayank (@kmayank9) December 17, 2020
You would think you’d have some respect at least for the guy who beat you last time to learn how to say his name. Not giggle about it on an international broadcast like schoolyard bullies picking on anything in the opposition.
— Gaurav Sabnis 🇮🇳🇺🇸 (@gauravsabnis) December 17, 2020
Oh ye gods, Warne is cluelessly making jokes about Pujara being called “Steve” at Yorkshire, and how that is “easier to pronounce” than “Cheteshwar”.
Hey Warney, you might want to read up on that whole racism scandal at Yorkshire!#AUSvIND
— Lea, Leopard that doesn’t want to change her spots (@LinuxLea) December 17, 2020
Fox Sports have been approached for comment.